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Heartbroken Harlem Teen Kills Himself During Chase with Cops; Incident Led to 2 School Lockdowns


A Harlem teenager who was heartbroken over a recent breakup killed himself Friday morning as deputies pursued the armed youth.

The teen, identified as 17-year-old Thomas Wilkes Cooper, was responsible for lockdowns at Harlem and Lakeside high schools since he attends one school and his ex-girlfriend attended another.

Columbia County authorities got a call Friday morning from Wilkes’ father saying the teen had recently broken up with his girlfriend and had gone to his grandparent’s house to get a rifle, sheriff’s Maj. Steve Morris said. The father said his son may be suicidal, leading to the lockdowns.

Meanwhile, authorities pinged the teen’s phone and spotted his parked vehicle at a business on Washington Road. The deputy approached him to talk, but the teen eventually fled. A pursuit lasted about quarter-mile before the teen shot himself, Maj. Morris said.

His vehicle went off the road, and he was ejected. He was pronounced dead on the scene, Maj. Morris said.

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Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.
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